'Around the World in 80 Days' Recap: Episode 2

Daniel Hautzinger
Phileas Fogg on a train through Italy in ' Around the World in 80 Days.' Photo: Tudor Cucu - © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-Films / RTBF
To save a life while on a train through Italy, Fogg comes up with a dangerous plan. Photo: Tudor Cucu - © Slim 80 Days / Federation Entertainment / Peu Communications / ZDF / Be-Films / RTBF

Around the World in 80 Days airs Sundays at 7:00 pm and is available to stream for a limited time. Recap the previous and following episodes.

Having flown over the Alps into Italy in Monsieur Lôme’s hot air balloon, Phileas Fogg and his party run aground. Fogg confused “up” and “down” in French and pulled a lever the wrong way. Luckily, they have crashed right near a railroad, and, according to Fogg’s calculations, the train to the port city of Brindisi should be there soon. Unluckily, Fogg must fend off Fix’s dogged questions about himself for her newspaper articles.

When the train finally comes and they board, however, Fogg is happy to answer the questions of admiring fellow passengers. He and Fix have been given private compartments and dine with table service and champagne while Passepartout is sent to crowded third-class seating in the back of the train to munch on a hard piece of bread—until a woman passes him delicious bagna cauda, which he praises eloquently in Italian, earning the affection of his fellow passengers.

Fogg basks in the attention of the other first-class diners, sparking the envy of Niccolo Moretti, a brash industrialist who had held the others in thrall before Fogg’s arrival. Moretti eventually knocks Fogg down a peg by pressing him on where he has traveled. The farthest from London Fogg has been before this trip is Edinburgh—for a wedding.

Fogg does inspire the admiration of Moretti’s son, Alberto, who is traveling with his father to live with his aunt in Brindisi. His mother has recently died. Alberto asks Fogg if it’s possible for humans to travel to the moon, as Jules Verne has written in his novels. He rushes away to show Fogg his model rocket but in his excitement causes Fogg to spill a drink. Moretti tries to wrest the rocket away from Alberto and breaks it.

Moretti chastises Alberto in another car while also apologizing that he hasn’t spent much time with him, given all his travels. Fogg enters and tries to intervene in the dressing-down, turning Moretti’s anger upon himself. As Fix enters, Fogg sheepishly skulks away under Moretti’s insults, locking himself in his compartment to thumb through his postcards—including the one addressed “Coward.” Moretti tells Fix that Fogg is a fraud.

Fix heads to the back of the train to find Passepartout. He’s playing cards and getting drunk with the train workers, trying to forget his grief over the death of his brother. Fix admits to Passepartout that she had started to believe in Fogg after witnessing him convincing Lôme to let them use his balloon. But now she doubts his tenacity.

The train workers become annoyed by Fix’s chattering through their card game and things spiral out of control until Passepartout starts a fight.

Afterwards, Fix treats a cut Passepartout has received and advises him that it’s better to talk about his grief instead of trying to ignore it by looking for fights. She knows Passepartout is going to leave Fogg in Brindisi: he runs away when things get difficult.

Fix might doubt Fogg, but Alberto believes in him. Talking to the Englishman while his father glues together his broken rocket, Alberto asks Fogg to send him a postcard when he successfully completes his journey, even though Fogg doubts himself.

The train suddenly jerks to a stop, sending passengers flying. A section of bridge over which the train must pass is crumbling, leaving the rails stretching over empty space for several yards. Alberto has been injured, his leg gushing blood from a piece of shrapnel. Passepartout applies a tourniquet, but warns that the boy will die if he does not reach a hospital soon.

Unfortunately the previous stop, Rome, is six hours away. Brindisi is two hours away, but it’s over the disintegrating bridge. Fogg has a sudden flash of courage. It could be done, he says: he has calculated that the engine and a single car could cross the unsupported rails if they discard all the coal fuel and some water. There’s a viaduct in Scotland that features hollow piers—the engineering is sound.

Moretti agrees to try the dangerous gambit.

Passepartout sits at the front of the train to sprinkle sand on the rails, giving the wheels friction to spin against. As the train slowly sets off over the gap, however, the bucket of sand tumbles from Passepartout’s hands. The train stops.

Fix carefully scoops coal dust from the engine car into a bucket and makes her way to the front. She and Passepartout sprinkle it on the rails, and the train sets off again.

It makes it over the gap. Without coal, everyone sets about chopping wood from the passenger car to fuel the engine. Fogg begins to doubt himself again, but Fix tells him to believe in his calculations—they’ll make it to Brindisi.

While everyone else chops wood, Moretti holds a fading Alberto. He asks his son about his rocket and getting to the moon in order to keep him awake, per Passepartout’s orders. Finally, the train rolls into Brindisi, with only a shell of a passenger car remaining.

As Alberto is carried away to the hospital, he stops everyone to speak to Fogg: you are exactly the man for making it around the world in 80 days, he tells the Englishman. Moretti hugs and thanks Fogg before rushing away with his son.

Having survived this ordeal, Fogg again worries: he could have killed everyone. But he didn’t, Fix says. She and Passepartout urge him to continue the journey and catch a steamer to Suez.

An obstacle awaits them. Fogg’s Reform Club companion Bellamy is in great debt, having lost his savings investing in American railroads. He convinces his bank to wait until Christmas Eve to claim his loan: he’ll be coming into some money from his wager with Fogg. He sends word to an Englishman in Port Said, Egypt. “Stop Fogg,” the telegram reads.